22 Feb 2022  |   05:25am IST

Simulation games and academics

Smitha Bhandare Kamat

I was pleasantly surprised when my twin kid was attempting swimming. It was a combo of free style and breast stroke. I was not certain how he had picked it up. Well, instincts played a role, but there was more to it. When enquired he told me he was inspired by GTA! Though I was personally against this particular game, due to the disheartening reviews it received, yet it made me think, and acknowledge that where my preaching failed, this game had influenced him to overcome his aversion for swimming. This is not to say that children should be playing this game. I rather focus on the silver lining. 

As for my daughter, she has a probability chapter in mathematics something that we too had decades ago. I recall that playing cards was a taboo in my family. This chapter compelled me to visualise cards and the possibilities of outcomes. It was a strenuous task for me. Today you don’t have to have a physical pack of cards, a simple game of solitaire exposes the player to virtual cards besides it is supposed to activate the mind, help in decision making and is believed to be good for the mental health.

The point I’m trying to make here is gaming, simulation is considered important pedagogical and andragogical tools. Both children and adults can learn a lot when exposed to certain games. According to Backlund, Hendrix, Boyle and other research scholars playing games provides multiple benefits to the learners. Not restricted to academics alone, but also behavioural, physiological, perceptual, cognitive, soft skills, etc. Research has shown that it has a positive impact on learning outcome.

The pandemic has compelled us to embrace online mode of instruction and at times a more interactive virtual mode of teaching. However, apart from online classes, by and large children are glued to their gadgets due to restricted social interaction, blatantly consuming net contents. The question is what is being fed to these young impressionable minds?

Young minds need to be challenged, stimulated and nudged in the right direction. Subject oriented simulation games needs to step in. It’s about time we transit from a rote learning methodology which emphasis on memorisation and is examination oriented to more application oriented one.

Game Depository can be generated in diverse subjects where learners can be exposed to real life scenarios where they have to apply their minds, find solutions, experiment, take risks, build, etc. This can then be assessed as part of the examination module rather than relying on the anachronistic mode of questioning the features, advantages, disadvantages etc of concepts, leaving much to be desired. In gaming normally, there is no one right or wrong answer, each learner is encouraged to be innovative and creative within the concerned subject parameters. The outcome is to be evaluated both by the peers and teachers. 

Gaming has found many global takers. Our teachers too should be encouraged to draw up such gaming modules by providing them with required training and support system. Unlearning, re-learning is the way forward.

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